30 corrections to its articles in the past seven years.
What’s more, a recent search of MDPI’s publications
brought up 31 articles listed as retracted since 2011.
Readers can decide if those retractions and corrections
are “many.” As for the “quality standards” upheld
by MDPI, may I reiterate that many academics
indicated to me that, in their view, MDPI journals
include many articles of mediocre or low quality.
Finally, the $2,000 publishing fee quoted in the
article is in Canadian dollars, which does equate
roughly to 1,600 Swiss francs.
The walls are coming down
while i support Martha Crago’s statement that
collaboration among universities and government agencies is important and must remain a
priority (“A plea for a united, full-strength
Canadian science,” February 2017 issue), I
would argue that, at least in the natural sciences,
in the Prairies, there are already fewer walls
between avenues of inquiry and information-sharing than the author suggests.
Collaborative research involving both post-
secondary institutions and government bodies
regularly informs policy decision-making at
the provincial and federal levels in the Prairie
Provinces. Broad generalizations about the state
of research relationships across a nation as
diverse as Canada are difficult to parse without
adequate analysis, but my own academic career,
as well as the careers of many of my colleagues,
has been a product of inter-agency collaboration.
The presence of government research offices
on university campuses across Canada suggests
that there are friendly, collaborative relationships in a number of areas of inquiry. Examples
at the University of Alberta include the National
Institute for Nanotechnology building, the housing of the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute on the main campus, and the location of the
Canadian Forest Service building and the provincial government’s agriculture offices on the
South Campus research farm. U of A has even
collaborated with the Helmholtz Institute, identified in the article, to form an independent international research partnership focusing on two
key areas: energy and the environment, and
health and life sciences.
From the experiences of my friends and col-
leagues, these are not isolated incidents limited
only to the Prairies, but brief examples of
collaborative work that is also occurring else-
where in the country between postsecondary
institutions and a broad range of federal and
provincial agencies. Regardless, it is important
to note that, like any relationship, inter-agency
collaboration requires effort to be maintained.
As an individual graduate student, that meant
my research questions were evaluated by a
diverse range of partners and I had to present
preliminary results to cross-sector audiences.
But, it also resulted in regularly participating in
cross-agency knowledge-sharing and learning
from visiting scientists in our laboratories and
We may well have witnessed a decrease in
activity from these kinds of relationships as the
restrictive federal policies of the early 2010s
and financial impacts of the economic downturn were felt among collaborative partners,
and groups pulled inwards to preserve what
remained. It is the responsibility of all parties
to develop and foster effective, collegial relationships in order for there to be meaningful
inter-agency and inter-institution partnerships.
Arguably, such relationships could even make us
more resilient in difficult times.
Ms. Lennie is a land reclamation and conservation specialist at
the Alberta Energy Regulator. She completed her MSc at the
University of Alberta, with collaboration from the Canadian Forest
Service and multiple forest industry partners.
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